28 Jan My Debut Journey So Far: The Switching Hour
It has been several months since the publication of my debut The Switching Hour and it has been a life-altering experience. Golden Egg Academy were instrumental in getting The Switching Hour sent out to agents in the first place. In fact, I would probably still be hovering over the ‘send’ button without the encouragement of my Golden Egg editor, Abigail. I’m grateful for the opportunity to write this blog post outlining a few things I have learnt since publication.
Firstly, being published means getting used to the idea that people are reading your book. Although this is what I have always wanted – to share a story in the same way that my favourite authors shared theirs with me – there is a huge element of anxiety that goes with this. There is a fear of people reading your story and having a negative reaction, as well as the worry of no-one reading your story at all! It is very easy to get caught up in overthinking reviews and taking them to heart, so I didn’t allow myself anywhere near review sites for the first couple of weeks after publication, which did help the nerves.
For someone who has only relatively recently started using social media to engage with the book community, I found promoting The Switching Hour overwhelming at first. I would write a tweet or a reply and delete it, getting frustrated with my inability to do such a simple task. In the end, it became exhausting and I just decided to be myself in the best way I could and not fret about how many heart emojis I used ❤️! It has been a lesson in listening to my instincts and engaging with social media in a way that makes me feel comfortable. Now it is a joy to be able to connect and engage with readers and other writers and shout about all the books that I have loved reading. I have gained online friends and a support system that continues to be invaluable. Book bloggers have been especially brilliant – giving me the opportunity to write guest posts and supporting The Switching Hour as it took its first steps.
As a shy person, I couldn’t really imagine anything worse than doing any sort of public speaking, such as running a writing workshop or standing in front of a school assembly. I knew that this would be a part of the job, but I put it to the back of my mind. Then came the day when I had workshops booked and looming on the horizon and I was racked with anxiety. What helped was having a workshop presentation that I could practice with friends and family, so that on the day I would feel as prepared as I could be, as well as making the workshops fun and interactive. To my huge relief, I can say that I have faced my fears and I now look forward to workshops and school visits. It really is one of the best experiences, getting to meet readers and chat about my favourite subjects – books and writing. There is still the flutter of pre-event nerves, but I know that I have done it before and I can do it again.
Another challenge was writing my second standalone story, due to be published this year, while promoting The Switching Hour, as my attention was suddenly split between two different worlds. In the month of publication, I focused on The Switching Hour, then the month after I slowly began outlining the second book, before dedicating more and more time to writing it. Outlining and planning my new story made it feel real and I was able to get advice from my brilliant editor, who suggested other ways to bring the story to life. It does feel like a balancing act, dividing your free time between promoting, administration and writing, because each one is important. For me, I needed to allocate time depending on my mood. If I was feeling particularly creative, usually in the mornings, I would focus on writing my new story, as I find it difficult to feel inspired after a long day at work. Again, it was a case of understanding myself and how I work best.
Most importantly for me, it was learning to treat myself kindly and finding support within the book and writing community. Writing takes so much from you; it uses up your time and energy and it demands your heart and your soul. Without you there would be no story, so don’t ignore how you feel and give yourself time to read books, eat biscuits and watch TV, or whatever else helps you relax.
Thank you to Golden Egg Academy for all the support you have given me and for the opportunity to talk about The Switching Hour. The challenges and joys that come with having your story out in the world are different for everyone, but I hope that sharing some of my experiences can help prepare and encourage other writers in similar situations, because if I can do it, so can you.
Damaris Young studied on the Writing for Young People MA at Bath Spa University, where she wrote her debut novel, The Switching Hour.
She spent my childhood in southern and central Africa before moving back to the UK as an adult and now lives in Bristol with my partner and two dogs.